Archive for the ‘Letters’ Category

Culp’s Letter (number four): The World of Style

Thursday, October 8th, 2009


Culp’s Letter (number four): The World of Style
October 8, 2009
by Donna Culp

I’m the sort of choreographer who is convinced all coaches are choreographers. But getting them to see that will not only be my biggest challenge ever— but also why I created the STYLE ROPE.

Back in my pre-STYLE ROPE days, I would freelance a choreography job, and, as is the case for many choreographers preparing for the challenge of creating routines, the coach would have briefed me on the gymnast. So before the start of the routine, I’d listen and have a better idea of what might work with the gymnast’s body. As the coach described the gymnast, always there were three types:

1. There was the “boxy” gymnast: she had the shape that tends to look like a boy. (But that is actually the girl with big-ticket tumbling just waiting to be artistic.)
2. There was also the “trickster” kid: she had the cool eye-popping elements to suit our Code of Points. On the down side: too sloppy, too wobbly, too loose.
3. And there was the “dancer.” Ugh, I’d think: “dancer” can mean ANYTHING. Anything from the reckless-unflattering to the ballet-costume thing, or the kind of dancing that doesn’t work aside from those mirror ballet-barre rooms in gyms.

Once the coach had drawn a picture for me, I’d hear the music played from the loud-speaker and, luckily, it wasn’t a movie tune. In fact, it was pretty darn good. Until, that is, the gymnast articulated her own idea of herself—not boxy, not trickster, not dancer.
“I can’t dance,” she said shamefully, dropping her head down and looking at her feet, causing the coach to panic. Oddly enough, the gymnast doesn’t look up for another ten minutes. Who knew that she would decide to check out at the beginning of a choreography session?
So I decided to bring out the STYLE ROPE I had been carrying on this particular trip. The STYLE ROPE frames and supports the gymnast so she gets to work her body beyond what she’d normally perform. Then the next thing, I choose a few of my favorite drills. I went through a number of reshaping drills to maximize the volume of her movement and the speed and line of her actions. She doesn’t shy away from anything!
Something is working— because before the clock has even passed ten minutes, it’s evident all things are possible. One of the coolest things about working with the STYLE ROPE is you don’t have to push-pull gymnasts into overtime to develop the extraordinary line—stability, dynamics, and poise that it takes to ascend to the class of “artistic.”
At the end of the day, I felt that we rocked this routine, causing the three of us to look forward to a high score! As the coach was about to take me to the airport, he asked the question “What’s in that rope?” My answer: Hope. Because, in my opinion, that’s a “product” every coach needs.

Those of you who want to view Donna Culp’s STYLE ROPE drills, purchase your DVD (at $29.95) from GymSmarts.

Culp’s Letter (number one): The World of Style

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

The Style RopeCulp’s Letter (number one): The World of Style
July 19, 2008 by donna culp

Women’s gymnastics is more than just four events, and perhaps that was most apparent as I watched the Olympic Trials (an exciting show in Philadelphia!) after a fun day of lecturing at Congress, running through my notes and Power-Point presentation: “Building the Artistic Gymnast … the Style Rope Way.”

Congress was fascinating. Happily attended, questions started to fly around the room … as coaches (and some judges!) began to catch onto the Style Rope, a simple piece of rope that can seem to make every gymnast an artist. The fact that the Code of Points speaks volumes about the concept of artistry – a possible 1.8 points of deductions at the judge’s fingers – is precisely what makes the Style Rope such an exciting tool.

That being said, unfortunately I am unable to post my presentation, which I shared for Congress. It has over 60 minutes of filming and, in the process, a large portion of this is more like a dialogue arrangement. If however, you are considering purchasing my video with Gym Smarts, you must also ask for the “free download” booklet – this is a very good guide to follow in the workout.

Certainly, if I have a closing statement, it is that every gymnast should be made as artistic as possible. Not just the elite gymnast, because from what I can tell, there is a way. Once you decide and value the challenge, I hope you will enjoy using the Style Rope in your workout.

The World of Style

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

I am delighted to blog!